Old Feelings Die Hard in Season 1, Episode 2 of ‘Nashville’
In an episode appropriately titled ‘I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still in Love With You),’ ABC’s new hit drama ‘Nashville‘ played with the romantic tensions between several different pairs of characters as multiple sub-plots continued to unwind in the second episode — especially the old feelings between lead character Rayna Jaymes (Connie Britton) and Deacon (Charles Esten).
At the end of last week’s episode, Rayna’s mentor, Nashville power broker Watty White (J.D. Souther), had an idea that he thought could salvage her solo tour, instead of her having to open for snotty pop country princess Juliette Barnes (Hayden Panettiere). White’s idea, it turns out, is for Rayna to stage a back-to-basics tour featuring just her and her band leader (and former lover) Deacon, performing in smaller, more intimate venues.
Of course, that means a lot of time together in an intimate setting for the old lovers — something both Rayna and her husband Teddy (Eric Close) are well aware of. Further complicating their marriage is his run for mayor, which makes it necessary for he and Rayna to undergo intense scrutiny to ward off any potentially embarrassing scandals that could threaten his candidacy — and from the look of him drinking while burning documents, he might not have been entirely forthcoming.
The character of Juliette Barnes keeps getting richer and more interesting. This week, we see that underneath her pop country gloss, Barnes longs to record and release genuine, quality music, which is no small part of why she has become so determined to woo Deacon away from Rayna. She not only wants to finish the song they started writing, but she wants him to come on the road with her as her band leader — and she’ll do anything to accomplish that, from outright seduction to giving him a rare Martin acoustic guitar worth $50,000. But in the end, his ties to Rayna are simply too strong; Juliette storms out of a Bluebird appearance at which Deacon brings Rayna up on stage to sing ‘No One Will Ever Love You,’ which brings the house down and makes it apparent that their old feelings are still there.
Another subplot involves Scarlett (Clare Bowen) and her own conflicted feelings between her boyfriend Avery (Jonathan Jackson), who is struggling to make it in the music business, and Gunnar (Sam Palladio), with whom she has such natural musical chemistry that Watty White has offered to produce their demo.
Episode 2 of ‘Nashville’ also features the debut of the first radio single from the show, Hayden Panettiere’s ‘Telescope‘ — which, interestingly, it transpires that her character doesn’t particularly care for.
With so many romantic and business entanglements going on, it should be interesting to see how the writers move ‘Nashville’ forward without making it too sappy or too much of an “inside” view of the music business that loses the audience. A teaser for next week’s episode shows that Juliette’s addict mom shows up to make trouble in the already-complicated life of the young star.